ENMU Special Collections Library Update

After late-December flooding damaged several books and periodicals in Eastern New Mexico University’s temporary basement storage for library items, special collections librarian Gene Bundy revealed April 6 during the Williamson Lectureship that items are ready to come back from freeze-dried vacuum storage in Fort Worth TX. Once the dam­aged items are returned to Portales NM, Bundy and his staff will be able to evaluate whether they are salvageable or not. The freeze drying process is supposed to draw moisture out of the paper, and leave the printed materials flat, if done properly. Librarians are getting ready to move archives and library books back into the heav­ily renovated Golden “Student Success Center,” even though the building will not be open to students and the public until late May, if finishing touches stay on schedule.

The second-floor space for special collections is smaller than before, even with Director of Library Services at Golden, Melveta Walker, getting 11 feet added back early in the rebuild­ing process. In the other half of the main room, the architectural group responsible for the redesign of the building decided to place compact shelving that can be moved to access aisles. However, they did not put compact, moveable shelving in the archives room, where Bundy says it would be more useful. Instead, there are wide, metal shelving units – and a partial track in the floor, seemingly installed for compact shelving.

“We have the southwest col­lection to fit in with the William­son science fiction collection,” Bundy said. “The idea seems to have been ‘books are books,’ but they are two separate collections and different books have different needs. Space is tight to say the least, and the new shelving isn’t helping.”

Of great concern to the special collections librar­ians is that there is no room for glass cases in the main area, even if they were saved from the original library space. Glass cases are seen as necessary to protect rare books and Jack Williamson’s many awards from being handled repeatedly, accidentally damaged, or even stolen.

Caci L. Cooper, president of Bubonicon Inc.’s board of directors, noted, “We’ve supported the Golden Library at ENMU since 2000, donating both thousands of dollars monetarily, and physi­cal items. It is disheartening to see something so special be treated so carelessly, and their needs ignored instead of preserved and respected. ”

Bundy and staff will be spending the next month moving everything back, and figuring out how to make all the special collections items fit into the revised, smaller space. “We’ll make it work, but it’s going to be a real challenge,” he said.

–Craig W. Chrissinger

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